Creamy Spinach Lasagna

This is one of those delicious beautiful dishes that will wow people every time, but takes almost all day to make. Yes this recipe has a lot of stages and parts, I understand! Avoid the urge to rush, in my opinion it’s best to cook each stage separately to prevent overcooking. Some people can cook multiple sauces simultaneously, but I think each sauce taste better when they are each given individual time and attention. Open a bottle of wine, turn on your favorite TV show and expect to be in the kitchen for a few hours. I normally use this as an excuse to escape to the kitchen while my husband tends to the kids. I say I’m making this time-involved meal, but I’m also drinking my favorite champagne and dancing to my favorite song.

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Yes, this is me making my chunky red sauce and drinking champagne…I was probably dancing too, but who knows!

I know some people like smooth lasagna, I don’t. I like my lasagna to have texture and depth. So that’s the reason for the multiple sauces, the fresh spinach and all the chunky vegetables. This dish is the creation of a few different lasagna recipes put together. Growing up my dad claimed that he did not like cheese so my mom substituted a cream sauce instead of cheese, this way the lasagna would still be deliciously creamy. We later found out that he sometimes ate cheese…why he’s selective about something so delicious as cheese, I’ll never understand! Now in my house my husband LOVES cheese, and I love to sneak vegetables in wherever I can…and so here we are with this delicious lasagna creation. This is the combination of a lot of good ideas rolled onto one plate.

Oh, also as this dish has so many layers, it’s so very important to taste each completed step! The sauce needs to be tasty and at the same time no layer should overpower the other layers. By tasting each layer it will ensure each layer is seasoned, but not over seasoned. Its best to add minimal amounts of seasoning, taste, and then based on your personal preferences slowly increase the amounts. Do not overcook the noodles, as they will continue to cook in the oven with the liquid from the sauces. I know those are a lot of warnings, but I promise this recipe is not too complicated. If it seems too tricky, drink some more wine and I promise It will seem easier. It will all be worth it in the end when you present this beautiful tasty dish to those that you love.

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This is the lasagna mid way, notice the baby snacks in the background…this is what my kitchen really looks like. HA!

Creamy Spinach Lasagna

  • 1 lbs. ground beef, lean
  • 1 lbs. Italian pork sausage (feel free to omit the pork and just double the ground beef)
  • 1 box lasagna noodles, cooked al dente according to package directions
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Jar of spaghetti sauce, 24 oz
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 c heavy whipping cream
  • ½ c half and half
  • Oil based cooking spray
  • 1 lbs. shredded Italian cheese
  • 1.5 lbs shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Cook sausage and beef together in a skillet on medium-high heat until meat mixture has browned completely. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and Italian seasoning. Remove from heat and allow meat to drain in a strainer to remove excess grease.
  2. Make Chunky Red Tomato Sauce: Add olive oil to a skillet set to medium-high heat, and once the pan is hot add chopped onion and green pepper. After vegetables begin to soften (after approximately 5-10 minutes) add garlic and continue to cook. After approximately another 10 minutes, add canned spaghetti sauce and chopped tomatoes. Add sugar (this will remove the canned and metallic taste from the sauce), and season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning to taste. Cover almost completely and cook on medium heat for 15-20 minutes. This will ensure the vegetables completely soften, and the flavors meld together. This is the perfect time to open a new bottle of wine, make a list of new shoes to buy, and find your favorite song to dance to.
  3. Make Creamy White Sauce: Melt butter in skillet set to medium heat. Once butter is completely melted and begins to bubble, add flour and using a whisk stir to ensure the butter has absorbed all the flour. Add heavy whipping cream and half and half. And using the whisk stir to ensure the flour is mixed completely into the cream. Season to taste with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Continue to cook on medium heat until the cream begins to slightly bubble (slightly!), continue to cook for approximately 10 minutes. The sauce should be comparable to the consistency of caramel, this way the sauce will form a layer during the lasagna’s construction. If the sauce is not as thick as you would like, add the slurry mixture in 1 tbsp. increments. Stir fully after each slurry addition, it will take approximately 3 minutes after each slurry addition for the sauce to thicken. Continue to add slurry until the sauce has reached your desired thickness.
  4. Now for the Layering!
    • Spray: Using cooking spray, completely spray the bottom and sides of a deep glass lasagna pan (normally 9x13inches, 4inches deep).
    • Red Sauce: Measure approximately 1/3 c of the red sauce and cover the bottom of the baking dish, use a spoon to spread completely.
    • Noodles: Ensure the noodles overlap by approximately 1/3. This will ensure every bite gets a full amount of noodles and is important with the heavy sauces.
    • White Cheese: Sprinkle approximately half of the cheese mixture evenly over the noodles.Meat: Evenly spread half of the meat mixture over the noodles.
    • White Sauce: Spread half of the white sauce over the noodles. If the sauce has cooled and is thick, use a spoon to evenly spread the sauce over the meat.
    • Noodles
    • Cheddar Cheese: Spread 1/3 of the cheese evenly over the noodles.
    • Meat
    • Red Sauce: Evenly spread 1/3 of the tomato sauce over the meat mixture. And then you’re done!
  5. Bake on 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Place a try under the lasagna tray to catch any cheese and butter that bubbles over. If the cheese on the top layer browns before the allotted time, cover the lasagna lightly with foil and continue to bake. Once fully cooked, remove from the oven and allow the lasagna to cool before cutting and serving. Be warned the lasagna will be delicious, but super hot. Enjoy!
lasagna4
Delicious!

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